The most visible signs of aging and skin sagging occur when our skin naturally loses collagen and elastin. These two proteins contribute to natural firmness and strength and are both structural proteins. These proteins provide firmness and elasticity to our skin, bones, connective tissues, and many organs in our body. However, it is the natural decrease in collagen production that leads to skin sagging, wrinkles, and fine lines.
In recent years, at-home skincare devices have gained considerable recognition among beauty enthusiasts, leading to people being able to target their desired condition without frequent visits to a dermatologist. At-home skin tightening devices have emerged to meet this demand, utilizing various techniques like Radio Frequency, Intense Pulsed Laser, and ultrasound to stimulate collagen production and enhance skin elasticity. In order to better comprehend the effectiveness of these devices, it's crucial to understand the role of collagen in our skin.
Collagen is a protein that is found in the extracellular matrix of the skin, and it plays a vital role in youthful skin appearance. The body produces collagen naturally but factors such as genetics and diet also impact its production. Collagen accounts for 25% to 35% of the protein content in the body and its production occurs in specialized cells called keratinocytes (in the skin) and fibroblasts (in other tissues).
Collagen has a triple helix structure consisting of three long polypeptide chains, each containing the nonpolar amino acid glycine at every third position. The main amino acids that make collagen are proline, glycine, and hydroxyproline. These amino acids group together to form protein fibrils in a triple helix structure. Our body needs the proper amount of vitamin C, zinc, copper, and manganese to make the triple helix. The main function of collagen is to help fibroblast formation in the dermis (middle skin layer), which helps new cells to grow. It also plays a role in replacing dead skin cells.
Around 28 types of collagens have been identified so far. They differ by how the molecules are assembled, the cell components that are added, and where the collagen is used. All collagen fibrils have at least one triple helix structure. The main five types of collagens are given below:
- Type I. This type makes up 90% of your body’s collagen. Type I is densely packed and used to provide structure to your skin, bones, tendons, and ligaments.
- Type II. This type is found in elastic cartilage, which provides joint support.
- Type III. This type is found in muscles, arteries, and organs.
- Type IV. This type is found in the layers of your skin.
- Type V. This type is found in the cornea of your eyes, some layers of skin, hair, and tissue of the placenta.
The production of collagen gradually declines as we grow older and thus causes skin laxity or an “aging” effect. This is where at-home skin tightening devices come into play, aiming to rejuvenate the skin by stimulating collagen production.
Working of at-home skin-tightening devices
At-home skin tightening devices use heat to stimulate the production of new collagen fibers and tighten the skin. Heat, radio frequency, Intense pulsed light, and ultrasound technology are some popular forms of non-surgical treatments that heat subcutaneous tissue and increase collagen.
Heat technology is a popular form of non-surgical treatment for skin tightening. At-home skin tightening devices use heat to target deeper layers of the skin, causing the contraction of existing collagen fibers and triggering the production of new collagen fibers as a healing response. Infrared light is a well-known heat-based technology that penetrates deep into the skin, boosting blood circulation and encouraging collagen production. These at-home devices deliver controlled amounts of heat, activating the body's natural regenerative processes and promoting the synthesis of new collagen fibers.
Radio Frequency technology
Another alternative is RF (Radio Frequency), a phenomenon that uses electromagnetic waves to generate heat in the dermis of the skin to boost collagen production by triggering the body’s healing response. This is a favored technology due to it being relatively safe, nonsurgical, and with minimal downtime. RF energy can penetrate deep into the skin while bypassing the top layers, which reduces the risk of damage to the top layers of the skin and ensures optimal collagen stimulation.
The thermal heat energy promotes tissue contraction by activating fibroblasts which bring on new collagen and elastic fiber production for improved skin quality and appearance. RF devices that have gained popularity include RF microneedling, Thermage, and ThermiTight. RF waves heat the deep layer of your skin to between 122 and 167°F (50–75°C), which kick-starts collagen production. The procedure, which is usually a very quick one, is also virtually painless. This makes it an attractive prospect for many potential users. By harnessing radiofrequency technology, at-home skin tightening devices provide a safe and effective way to address sagging skin and wrinkles.
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) Technology
IPL therapy is a non-surgical method of tightening the skin. The procedure involves using energy waves to heat the deep layer of your skin known as your dermis. This heat stimulates the production of collagen. IPL uses light energy to target a certain color in your skin. When the skin is heated, your body gets rid of the unwanted cells, and that gets rid of the thing you’re being treated for. IPL is a non-invasive treatment that requires no downtime and is virtually painless since it only creates a small amount of heat. The light from IPL is more scattered and less focused than a laser. IPL penetrates down to the second layer of your skin (dermis) without harming the top layer (epidermis), so it causes less damage to your skin.
IPL emits pulsed light at a wavelength in the range of 500 – 1200 nm. Longer wavelengths (1000 nm) penetrate more deeply and can be used for telangiectasias situated deeper in the dermis and for large vessels. Lower wavelengths (500 to 600 nm) effectively treat smaller-caliber vessels but interact more readily with epidermal and dermal melanin. Therefore, shorter wavelength filters should be reserved for treating fair-skinned individuals (Fitzpatrick skin phototypes I – II). The energy density choice depends on the target type, requiring fluences ranging from 25 – 45 J/cm2. Larger vessels require more energy to heat up, and smaller vessels heat more quickly. Pulses are delivered as single, double, or triple pulses, each pulse lasting 2 – 25 ms for larger vessels and 2.5 – 5 ms for smaller vessels. Longer pulse widths are gentler, while shorter bursts of energy produce a stronger reaction. Using a pulse duration (generally between 0.5 – 88.5 ms) that is shorter than the thermal relaxation time of the target structures may spare surrounding tissue from excess heating. Different intervals between pulses range from 10 – 500 ms; the delay between pulses allows the non-target tissues to cool down while the heat is retained in the target of interest. The micro pulses allow the epidermis cells and smaller vessels to cool down between pulses. At the same time, the heat is retained in the larger vessels, resulting in selective thermal damage.
Ultrasound skin tightening is a non-invasive treatment that uses ultrasound therapy to go deeper than other non-invasive treatments for collagen stimulation. It leverages traditional ultrasound imaging so Ultherapy providers can see the layers of tissue they are treating. This ensures the treatment energy is delivered to where it benefits you most. Ultrasound waves heat the deep layer of our skin, stimulating the production of collagen. The ultrasound waves generate a thermal effect that jump-starts our body's natural collagen production. The energy is absorbed by the support tissues, and the area heats up slightly, causing the body to respond as if an injury has occurred. Nutrients are rushed to the site via the bloodstream, and the energy actually kick-starts a process that results in an increase in the production of collagen.
Here are some additional details about how Ultherapy works:
- Ultherapy uses ultrasound imaging to visualize the layers of tissue being treated. This ensures that the treatment energy is delivered to where it benefits you most.
- The ultrasound waves penetrate deep into the skin, targeting the same layers of tissue that are typically addressed during a surgical facelift.
- The treatment is customizable, allowing providers to adjust the depth and intensity of the ultrasound energy based on your individual needs.
- The ultrasound energy stimulates the production of collagen, which helps to lift and tighten the skin over time.
- The treatment is safe and effective, with minimal discomfort and no downtime.
- Results are gradual and natural-looking, with most patients seeing improvement within 2-3 months after treatment.
- The results can last up to two years, making Ultherapy a long-lasting solution for skin tightening and lifting.
How do these devices stimulate collagen production?
These devices work by heating the deep dermal collagen at a higher temperature than could be safely used at the epidermal level, which leads to a much stronger collagen contraction effect to improve deep wrinkles. The heat generated by these devices causes controlled wound-healing responses that lead to collagen remodeling and neocollagenesis over time. This collagen remodeling yields the desired tissue tightening that is seen with these devices.
Methods to enhance the collagen production
Some methods to enhance collagen production along with the use of at-home skin tightening devices are given below:
- Stress management: Being stressed disrupts collagen synthesis and also contributes to rapid skin aging. Stress hormones, such as cortisol, can interfere with collagen production and promote collagen degradation, thereby leading to a more aged appearance.
- Sleep management: Sleep deprivation can negatively impact collagen synthesis. During sleep, the body undergoes repair and regeneration, including collagen production. Lack of quality sleep can disrupt this process and impair collagen synthesis. Aim for seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night to allow your body ample time to rejuvenate and stimulate collagen production
- Collagen supplements: Collagen supplements are a popular way to boost collagen production. There are many collagen supplements available in the market. Some are in the form of capsules and others are in the form of powders.
- Hyaluronic acid: A substance that aids in collagen production, hyaluronic acid is gaining popularity as a component of facial serums that can be added to daily skincare routines.
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for collagen production, and is found in citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits. It is also becoming a sought-after component of facial serums, creams, and soaps.
- Ginseng: Ginseng, a plant root discovered in China and used in supplements, has been shown to increase collagen production.
- Antioxidants: Antioxidants help protect the skin from damage and promote collagen production.
The internet is brimming with infinite possibilities and technologies for skin tightening, making it hard for users to be able to select a suitable device. Evenskyn Lumo at-home skin-tightening is one such device that can boost collagen production and is recommended for usage. While being FDA-approved, it also boasts numerous positive reviews from users for its effectiveness in the reduction of wrinkles and improving skin texture. Moreover, it has been proven to be suitable for usage on the face and the neck which makes it even more appealing for users desiring a safe and efficient choice.
At-home skin tightening devices are a convenient and affordable way to reduce skin laxity and stimulate collagen production. Despite the fact that they make use of various technological advances, they function by heating the deep dermal collagen to trigger regulated wound healing responses that lead to collagen remodeling and neocollagenesis over time. To avoid any unpleasant side effects and to maximize benefits, it is crucial to speak to a dermatologist before initiating any skin care regimen or utilizing any at-home skin tightening device.